I ignored it the first time, not wanting to make the conversation awkward for either of us, but the second time the topic came up, I felt compelled to address the egregious misinformation, which, in a nutshell, basically came down to this: Dude, I dumped your friend; I wasn’t the one who got dumped.
In relationships, the details of who broke up with who doesn’t really matter; the outcome is always the same. But there was something about the way his friend looked at me—that combination of disappointment in his friend and embarrassment for me—that was more than I could stomach. “Richard… you know… what an idiot,” he said, shaking his head, which, in turn, solicited my own head’s reaction, cocking to one side in confused interest. I’m sorry, come again?
Round one, I laughed off, leaving Richard, the boy I dated last spring for three months and the friend of the person standing in front of me wearing Sad Eyes Sympathy Face, with his lie intact. I would be the better person, the one who didn’t care that this ex-whatever-he-was had, in some grasping attempt to save face, told his friends that he was the one who had broken up with me, and not the other way around. Breathe, Jenny. It’s not a big deal. Breathe.
That was until that same friend and I ran into each other again a month later, and the topic—for reasons likely attributed to the late hour and general speech-limiting inebriation—came up again. “I wish Richard hadn’t gone and f***** that up,” the friend said. “You’re great.” And to prove, in fact, that I might be great, but by no means the greatest, I succumbed to my own ego, standing up for my good name and rights as the dumper and not the dumpee. Because the he-said-she-said doesn’t matter until people start lying. Then it’s time to go in and get your hands dirty.
“You know, I was one the one who broke up with Richard. He didn’t break up with me,” I yelled over the music.
Richard’s friend looked at me, his eyes widening in a way that betrays his response, which is a bumbling, “Oh, yes, yes, yes, of course, I know, yes, I know,” followed by an even more telling awkward giggle.
It was a dull vindication, one that didn’t necessarily leave me walking away with any soaring sense of real victory. In reality, the reward matched the offense, both being so laughably little. But in a city where I so often do not have the upper hand in relationship dissolution, it’s important to feel—on the occasions in which I’ve earned it—that I’m capable of not liking people just as much as other people are capable of not liking me. Because while rejection is unavoidable, I’d like to at least keep the dumper-to-dumpee ratio even. All is fair in love and war… until someone starts making up crap and throwing a wrench into your numbers.